The Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, recently stated that only 34 per cent of Nigerians owned bank accounts.
The governor, who made the comment when he met with traders association in the state, added that only 9 per cent of bank account owners conducted online transactions.
He condemned the timing of the naira redesign and cashless economy policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing it as a deliberate attempt to incite Nigerians against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Our enemies are those fifth columnists in the Villa; and they will fail. This is a deliberate conspiracy against the APC; that is why we came out and revealed what is going on.
“How would you print only N300billion worth of notes unless you want to create crisis. Only 34 per cent of Nigerians have bank accounts and only 9 per cent use digital platforms for transactions.
“Do you think you would remove 34 per cent and 9 per overnight?” He said.
Relying on data from relevant agencies, Daily Trust on Sunday verified both claims by the governor and found them to be inaccurate.
Only 34% of Nigerians have bank accounts
Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that the number of active bank accounts in Nigeria increased to 133.5 million at the end of 2021, according to the data released by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
The NIBSS data shows that out of the active bank accounts, individual accounts represent 92 per cent, which is 122.3million, while the remaining are corporate accounts.
The figure showed an increase from 2020. At the end of 2020, total active bank accounts in the country stood at 114.8million. This means that a total of 18.7million new bank accounts were opened in 2021.
The data also shows that the number of current accounts rose by 14 per cent to 49.8million in 2021 from 43.6million in 2020. In the same vein, savings accounts increased by 7.8 per cent to 120.4million in 2021 from 111.7million in 2020.
The day also showed that the number of inactive bank accounts in the country stood at 57.9million in the year under review. From the NIBSS data, the total number of bank accounts in the country as at 2021 was 191.4million, out of which 133.5 were actively in use.
This shows an increase of 11 per cent or 5.7million in the number of inactive banks accounts for the year as the inactive ones stood at 52.2million in 2020.
Industry analysts have cited several factors for the increasing number of inactive accounts in the country.
According to the agency, these include an increase in the prices of goods and services, low income, accompanied by the low purchasing power of Nigerians, increasing rate of unemployment, immigration, among others.
Consequently, the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Isa Kwarra, revealed in December 2022 that Nigeria’s population stood at 206million.
Analysis by Daily Trust on Sunday shows that the percentage of 133million out of a population of 206million is 64 per cent.
Daily Trust on Sunday verified and confirmed that the percentage of Nigerians with active bank accounts, according to the NIBSS, is 133m, which is 64 per cent of Nigeria’s population and not 34 per cent as claimed by Governor El-Rufai; as such, his claim is inaccurate.
Only 9% of Nigerians use digital platforms for transactions
Similarly, according to a recent survey by Mastercard, a global payment and technology platform, 91 per cent of Nigerians use digital channels, such as banking apps and websites to make financial transactions.
According to the survey, titled, ‘Financial Inclusion – Connecting People to Finance, Health, and Education, Nigeria has the highest usage when compared with other Middle East and African (MEA) countries, such as Kenya, which had 87 per cent, closely followed by Pakistan (66%), Jordan (53%), Morocco (34%) and Iraq (27%).
The survey was carried out in the above countries in December 2021 via digital interviews.
“There is a greater awareness of mobile money, combined with a broader diversification in its uses. Consumers are now more open to using mobile money for more than just transactions,” the report stated.
It added that consumers were using credit, savings and insurance products. In many cases, mobile money is being used to receive payment for services or products.
The vice president, Global Product and Engineering at Mastercard, Umar Hashmi, said the survey was geared towards exploring a region brimming with potential, ideas and possibilities.
The report added that people connected digitally to health care providers to pay for services, set appointments, get vaccination updates, manage and pay for health insurance, manage medical reports, track and report symptoms.
Similarly, those connected to education providers use their devices to attend live classes, interact with teachers and students, access recorded lectures, manage study schedules, pay for services and access progress reports.
“Over 55 per cent said they used digital mediums to make financial transactions and 43 per cent said they were connected digitally to a health service provider, with Kenya and Nigeria coming in at 55 per cent and Iraq 11 per cent,” the report stated.
Mastercard listed some of the efforts or policies MEA countries have put in place to enhance financial inclusion. For example, in Pakistan, digitalisation of financial services has resulted in 75million active electronic wallet accounts as at June 2013.
Similarly, in 2022, Nigeria approved guidelines for licensing and regulation of payment service banks to enhance financial inclusion as defined in the country’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). Branchless banking (mobile money) account by dialing a simple code.
Outside Nigeria, digital inclusion enabled Tunisia and Morocco to provide quick and secure financial support to disadvantaged demographics amidst the pandemic.
Also, in North Africa, Tunisia launched a digital wallet solution for mobile phones to distribute social support. Informal workers in Morocco received government’s help through their phones quickly and efficiently.
The Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC) launched a new platform to enable instant payments, while the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) permitted online wallet registration. Together with JoPACC, it encouraged government entities to adopt wallets for wage payments as well as for social assistance.
The report concluded that inclusion into the financial mainstream, which also promotes access to effective health and education services, could only be enhanced by the fundamental or infrastructural availability of digitalisation and digital devices that can access the online world.
“To improve their lives and wellbeing, people need to be able to take care of their finances, health and ability to participate in the workforce. This is what financial inclusion efforts can and must aim to enable,” the report stated.
Similarly, a data released by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) revealed that transactions worth N33.2trillion were performed electronically in August 2022 alone through the NIBSS Instant Payment platform (NIP).
This brings the total value of e-payment deals in the eight months to N238.7trn from January to August 2022.
The NIBSS data also shows that the August 2022 record came as an all-time high e-payments value recorded in a month since the deployment of the platform.
Compared to the N29.3trn recorded in July, this shows a 13.3 per cent growth. Year on year, the e-payment value increased by 50 per cent compared to the N22.1trn recorded in August last year.
The surge in electronic transactions shows that more Nigerians are embracing the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to the NIBSS, the value of e-payment recorded was a reflection of the increase in the volume of deals within the month. The NIP volume rose to 448million in August, showing a 10.6 per cent increase over 405million recorded in July.
The NIBSS Instant Payments (NIP) is an account number-based, online real time inter-bank payment solution developed in 2011. It is the Nigerian financial industry’s preferred funds transfer platform that guarantees instant value to the beneficiary.
According to the NIBSS, over the years, Nigerian banks have exposed NIP through their various channels, that is, internet banking, bank branch, kiosks, mobile apps, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Point of Sale (POS), Automated Teller Machines (ATM) etc to their customers.
Digital banking in Nigeria is growing as more people embrace the ease of technology-enabled financial transactions, as well as Nigeria’s digital banking growth.
The value of POS transactions has more than tripled to N699.7bn in 2021 from N167.5 billion in 2017, according to data from NIBSS.
Mobile transactions are information exchanges primarily related to finances that happen over cell phone networks, including web-based sales where consumers navigate websites on their phones to make purchases online.
Following the ease of lockdown by the federal government in 2021, more Nigerians are opting to use mobile money and electronic banking for transactions.
Mobile transactions more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020 and up 51 times from 2017 levels.
Electronic bill (e-bill) payment is a process companies use to collect payments electronically through systems, including the internet, direct-dial access and ATMs. According to the NIBSS, this channel has become a core component of online banking at many financial institutions today.
Following data from relevant bodies and volume of transactions by digital platforms, Daily Trust on Sunday concludes that a larger number of Nigerians use digital platforms for transactions and not only 9 per cent as claimed by the governor of Kaduna State.